• pert •
Pronunciation: pêrt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: No, it isn't a shortened form of the mispronunciation of pretty: 'perty'. It means 1. Lively, spirited, saucy, cheeky. 2. Small, neat, firm, and attractive.
Notes: This short little word is pert itself: a bit saucy so be careful how you use it. It's best if you apply it to someone who knows you love them or to someone who isn't present. It comes with an adverb, pertly, and an abstract noun: pertness.
In Play: The second sense of today's word applies to body parts. We might say playfully to a girlfriend or daughter: "Keep your pert little nose out of my business!" The first sense of today's word applies to everything else: "Barbie Dahl is a pert and perky young girl, always as happy as a lottery winner."
Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word meant "unconcealed, bold, obvious, frank". It is the aphetic form of apert from Old French apert, which today means "apparent, obvious". Apert came from Latin apertus "open", the past participle of aperire "to open". Latin received this word from PIE ap-wer-yo "to uncover", based on apo "off, away" + wer- "to cover". Wor-/wer- turned up in Old English as wer "dam, fish trap", which today is weir. English warn came from Old English warnian "to take heed", another descendant of wor-, the ablaut variant of wer-. Warrant is another English derivation of this PIE root. French borrowed this word from English but, since French had no [w] sound at the time, it used the next best thing, [gw], spelling it guarant. English borrowed back the French variant as guaranty. (Now let's thank William Hupy, from whose pert mind sprang today's Good Word.)